Hey weavers! It’s earth month! All April I will be posting about ways that you can be more sustainable and less wasteful in your studio. I promise I’m not going to get into a huge rant about why recycling in general is a necessity (not just recycled yarn.)
/ small rant
Or why there are so many other things you should also do that are incredibly important for this planet.
These ideas can apply to all aspects of your life – even your weaving studio. So today we’re going to talk about why everyone should have a bin/ box/ basket/ whatever in their studio where they put their scraps instead of the garbage so they can upcycle or recycle their yarn.
Hey, if you are not into the whole saving the planet thing. Re-using and recycling yarn can also save you money! Yarn is expensive.
Don’t waste it.
Weaving scraps come from your floor loom waste, cutting your tails, and basically every aspect of the weaving process. Besides yarn – scraps can also come in the form of fabric, ribbon, or anything else you use to weave with. If you do not currently collect your scraps then you might be surprised to learn just how much yarn you waste regularly. I keep mine in a small plastic bin that I can stack, so it takes up very little space, but is within reach so I don’t forget about it!
Out of sight, out of mind.
Need help planning your weaving project? Stuck trying to figure out how much yarn you need? What the h&^$ is WPI? Check out my e-book!
Here are 5 ways you can use recycled yarn to help the environment and save some money!
If you are using a floor loom then you will need to measure out your warp using either a warping board or a warping mill. Since your floor loom warp is usually pretty long, it’s really important to tie off sections of your warp to keep everything in place while you are transferring it. This also applies to warping your rigid heddle loom if you’re not direct warping.
Using a warping board or mill? You will need warp ties.
There’s nothing stopping you from using fresh new yarn, but why would you?
These warp ties are small pieces of yarn that are not going to be a part of your finished weaving. They do not need to match – they don’t even need to be pretty! Or strong! They only need to be long enough to go around your warp.
I do recommend using your colorful scraps for this if you have any. They will be a lot easier to differentiate from your warp yarn and you will be less likely to cut the wrong yarn when taking them off.
Trust me, you do not want that.
I use these ties to keep my “X” in my warp, to twine around the warp every yard or so, and to make bundles for easier warp counting.
I call these my security blankets and to me – you can never have too many!
Frame Weaving Warp
Knowing the size of the yarn scraps can really help you if you need it for a full weaving or samples. If you have a lot of one type of yarn then you can bundle them and label for easier identification later.
If your recycled yarn scraps are really long than you can re-use them for warp on your simple frame loom! This can work really well for a small 4 selvedge weaving. For a larger weaving, though, you might have to warp in stages. This takes only an extra minute or so to tie some extra knots and is worth it for the sustainability and money saving benefits of not using brand new yarn from the cone.
You can also use the scrap yarn for your EPI min- loom when trying to figure out the best EPI. Your mini-loom is so small it should not take much yarn to warp it up.
Imagine if you use scraps for your warp and weft and weave it on a re-purposed picture frame! You will have made a completely recycled weaving.
No extra materials costs is always a win.
Weft/ Rya Knots/ etc.
If your recycled yarn scraps end up on the longer side then you can re-use them as weft! For weft, you might have to use more individual pieces than if you were starting from new since scraps will tend to be on the shorter side. That just means you will have even more tails and more opportunity to use up every small piece of yarn.
If your scraps are too short to use for your plain weave weft, than they might be long enough for rya. Rya knots are a technique that creates a “pile” on the surface of your weaving. Recycled yarn is perfect for this.
Think of it as a shag rug.
In fact, rya knots are one way to create a woven rug. You can keep them long or short depending on the look you are going for.
Traditional? Cut them short.
Psychedelic? Keep them long.
Idea: Use lots of different colored scraps for rya and create fun and interesting areas. You can pile all your scraps up and pick from them at random to create your weaving. It will be a surprise how it turns out!
Learn how to do rya knots and looped pile here!
Bows for Presents
On a non-fiber art point you can recycle yarn to use to tie up your presents or create bows. This is an especially nice touch if the present is made from that same yarn.
It will be like giving them a preview of what they’re getting before they even open the present!
Most bows that you can buy are made from plastic. Ditch the plastic decoration and give your gifts the unique touch only fiber can give.
Bonus points if the present is also wrapped in recycled fabric or paper. They could even re-use the fabric for something else.
Keep the sustainability going.
Filling for … anything
For those extra small pieces that you can’t weave with or use in any other way (like the cuttings to even out your rya knots), you can hoard them until you have enough to use as filling for whatever you need.
Just put them in a box, jar, or anywhere you will remember them until you have enough to use.
Try making a pin cushion!
You can use a clean sock, part of an old shirt, or really any scrap fabric for the outside. Then fill it with equal parts recycled yarn scraps and rice and sew it up! The rice helps to keep your pins sharp and gives it some weight, while the scraps mean you’re not using a ton of rice.
Other options include using your yarn scraps to fill handmade stuffed animals, amigurumi, or other small soft things.
There are so many things that you can do with your recycled yarn – these are only a few of them!
If, like me, you want to keep weaving – let’s work on saving the planet so we have a place to do it.
Are you with me?
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Little bits of wool could be left near hedges for birds to make nests.
Thank you for all your suggestions. Where can yarns & fabrics that cannot be reused be recycled by the homeowner?
You would probably have to look into your local recycling guidelines. If the yarn or fabric is natural (not synthetic) and free of chemical treatments you might even be able to compost them. If they are large you could look into giving them away on facebook or craigslist for others to use! Hope these help 🙂
I saved a lot of scrap yarn over the years. Didn’t have an idea what I would end up doing with it. Dug it out of the bags this winter, cut it smaller if need be, combed it into fiber for spinning. Came up with some neat variations.
That is a really cool idea! I might have to try that some time 🙂
Oh, I thought I am crazy collecting small pieces, BUT NO! Thanks!
Not crazy at all! You can use them for so many things!